The task

Using the deposition of Richard Grandy as a starting point, discuss how events at Scullabogue contrasted with the non-sectarian ethos of the United Irishmen.

● The document, the sworn testimony (deposition) of Richard Grandy, given on 23 June 1798 was widely circulated in the aftermath of the 1798 Rebellion. It contains his eyewitness account of the events at Scullabogue in which over 100 mostly Protestant, loyalist prisoners were massacred. Grandy was one of only two survivors of the horrific incident. A transcript of the document is on Loop and a pdf copy of Grandy’s original testimony can be located on the National Archives of Ireland 1798 site (facsimile 13).

Task guidelines

This question requires you to discuss how events at Scullabogue in June 1798 contrasted with the non-sectarian ethos of the United Irishmen. Before you approach the question familiarise yourself with events surrounding the rebellion in Wexford; look at the points and arguments raised by historians.

The document is intended to serve as the starting point for your research and to help you become familiar with the use of primary sources. You may find the language used in the original document challenging at first – the letter ‘f’ is often used in place of the letter ‘s’ – however, a transcribed copy is available to you on Loop.

Grandy’s testimony outlines his experiences over the nineteen days he spent with the rebels in County Wexford. While parts of his testimony may be fictitious, the description of the Scullabogue massacre is believed to be a reasonably accurate account.

Consider how the events he describes are regarded by contemporary historians. The articles by James Kelly, Elizabeth Malcolm, and Daniel Gahan are particularly relevant to the assignment as they attempt to understand the overall nature of the violence that occurred during the 1798 Rebellion. The intention is that the document should stimulate your thinking on the topic before you begin your research and analysis. An effective answer will be built upon wide reading and research of online and other sources.

You need to analyse the evidence presented in the document rather than simply provide a narrative of what happened. This means that while you must show some engagement with the document in question, you must also illustrate an ability to show an understanding of the historiography (what historians say) of the 1798 Rebellion in County Wexford.

The word count is 1500 words (+/- 10%). Part of the challenge in an assignment is to present a coherent argument within the prescribed word count.

Your assignment must have an introduction, where you give your key arguments, a main body broken into paragraphs (usually at least half a page in length) where you develop your arguments, and a conclusion where you sum up your ideas, along with posing some questions on the legacy of the topic. It should also include a bibliography that lists the works, including on-line resources, which you have consulted. It should also be footnoted throughout.

Consider the following points in your research for this assignment:

● What does the language in the document convey about prevailing sectarian attitudes?
● Grandy spent nineteen days with the rebels and provided medical aid to the rebel wounded so do you think his testimony is reliable?
● How was Grandy treated by rebel commanders including Bagnal Harvey?
● Is there any evidence that old scores were settled between rival Protestant and Catholic groups during the rebellion?
● Did the press (newspapers and journals) play a part in stirring up sectarian feeling prior to the rebellion?
● How did government atrocities at New Ross influence events at Scullabogue?
● To what extent was Grandy’s deposition used as anti-United Irishmen propaganda after the rebellion?

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